Rick Herrick>



Have you ever wondered what goes on in a sex education class? I have. To satisfy my curiosity, I recently spent an hour with Mary St. Germain. Among other things, Mary taught home economics and childhood development in the Wellesley public school system for more than 30 years. But her favorite class was sex education.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because my seventh graders could be so funny. One day the topic was sexually transmitted diseases (STDS), and a kid asked me how they spread. Abstinence was always a major value that we stressed in all of our discussions, so I wanted to scare them a little. In answering the question, I summarized a case study from a college campus on how certain diseases can spread rapidly. As my students were leaving my classroom, one kid said to his friend:

‘I’m never going to get one of those diseases.’

‘How are you going to avoid it?’ his friend asked in response.

‘I’m not going to college.’

“What topics did the course cover?” I asked, smiling and hoping to trigger another funny story.

“Well, obviously STDS. But they learn about male and female anatomy, how the body works. I had wonderful bulletin boards on those topics. We got lots of visitors. We also discuss relationships; and, of course, alcohol and drugs. Sexual abuse. You would be amazed. It exists even in an uptown place like Wellesley.”

“Do the kids like the class?”

“Well, at first they are very shy. They are uncomfortable saying certain words. The girls are mortified when I talk about the female menstrual cycle. But as the year progresses they become more comfortable with each other. At the end of each unit we play Jeopardy as a way of reviewing the material. They love that.”

“What about homework? Do you give them homework assignments?”

“Do you mean, go out on a date, try this, and report back to the class? No. But we do use handouts which we ask that the parents sign. Especially on controversial subjects. We want parents to discuss the issue with their child.”

“Do you ever have problems with the parents?”

“Almost never. They tend to be very supportive of what we do. Parents have a right to keep their child from taking the class, but it only happened two or three times during all of my years in the classroom. The parents wanted their kids to learn honest, accurate information on these subjects. That was the whole point of the class.”

On another matter, The beach club held its annual July meeting on Sunday, July 4. The meeting was routine because the club is in such good shape. This happy situation did not happen by accident.

Special thanks go to board president Bill O’Brien who works quietly behind the scenes, putting out fires and making many good things happen. Energetic Lisa Knight is back as manager with another excellent staff. And then there are the many volunteers. Paul Hyzak has brought the club into the digital age with the club Web site, weekly newsletters, and e-mail surveys. Ed Zephir supervised the opening of the club and donated several tables. Liz Durkee, Oak Bluffs agent for the conservation commission, has provided invaluable advice for constructing the berm and for dealing with beach issues generally. Perry Patterson, club treasurer, has worked tirelessly overseeing the club’s financial health. Chris O’Brien and Laura Skeen have added some fun, new social activities for adults, and the grounds outside are beautiful because of the hard work this spring of Dave and Judy Lawton and Dave and Judy Cunniffe. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers.

Finally, Jay Kay, retiring commodore of the yacht club, thanked Rob Hammett for supervising the dredging project. He also introduced Page Stephens as the new commodore. Page’s first act in office was to thank Henry Jeffers for his long commitment and hard work in building the racing program.